There have been a number of movies over the last few years (and a few television shows) that have tried to cash in on the fairy-tale genre. Jack the Giant Slayer, is the most recent attempt, and although it is at times a fun and airy reimagining of the class tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, it is not entirely successful.
Very little of the movie resembles the original fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk except the beans and the stalk. The premise of this story is that hundreds of years earlier, monks used magic to create beans that linked earth with the land of the giants. The giants discovered when they came to earth that they had a liking for humans. They destroyed the land and killed thousands of people. With a little help of some additional magic, the same monks forged a crown, out of the melted heart of a giant, and gave it to the king. The king was then able to control the giants and send them back to their land creating peace in his kingdom.
Although it has been hundreds of years since the time of the giants, no one in the kingdom believes the story any longer. Jack gets possession of these beans, and unwittingly one of them gets planted and creates a new link to the land of the giants. In this process, the princess is lost. Jack, along with the princess’ betrothed, Lord Roderick, and a group of trusty knights, climb the stalk to find and rescue the princess. Lord Roderick, is played by Stanley Tucci, and he is at times both amusing an interesting as our “bad guy” who has grand plans of ruling the giants and usurping the kingdom.
The special effects of the movie were done well—but considering that the movie cost more than $200 million to make I would expect fantastic effects. I also appreciated that the filmmakers attempted to give each of the giants their own personality and uniqueness. Bill Nighy does an excellent job as the voice for Fallon, the two-headed leader of the giants.
Although the movie was very well made, I expected to enjoy it more. What was lacking for me was a strong central character. Nicholas Hoult, plays Jack, as an earnest likeable guy, but as the lead character in the movie I expect more than an affable guy. I don't fault Hoult for this because the writers and directors gave him very little to work with. My favorite character in the movie was Elmont the leader of the king’s guard, played by Ewan McGregor. He embodied valor, integrity and a true hero—to bad he wasn’t Jack.
Jack the Giant Slayer, was made for families, and children will especially enjoy the giants in all of their hairy grossness. However, I found that it was a safe and predictable film. Most of the characters are bland and forgettable and the humor is simple and could have been more biting. I just wished that it had gone a little further and demonstrated more creativity and humor in its reimagining of a much beloved tale.